Ever since she attended a wedding there a decade ago, Caroline has hoped to someday get married at the Loeb Boathouse. She was captivated by the greenery of Central Park, the castle’s white columns and storybook robots gliding along the lake.
When the Pittsburgh native got engaged last March, she spent three months trying to set a wedding date in September, eventually settling on the first Saturday in October. She envisioned the romantic craze of clothing brand LoveShackFancy to bring in the outdoors with garden-inspired green and blue accents.
“We really fell in love with the location and were very excited,” said Carolyn, who works for a real estate technology company and declined to give her last name.
But her dream turned into a bride’s worst nightmare when she received a lingering message from a colleague on July 21.
“Caroline, your wedding venue is closing!” The crushing message read, which she received after finishing a personal training session.
Late last month, Loeb Boathouse owner Dean J. Poole announced it would be closing permanently. on 16 october Due to skyrocketing food prices and rising labor costs. All 163 employees of the establishment will be laid off. New Yorkers mourn the loss of the lakeside landmark, a structure first built in 1873 and Redesigned and reopened in 1954 Carl M. Loeb, an investment banker, and his wife Adeline later donated $305,000 to the new construction. Pole was awarded a concession contract for the property by the New York City Parks Department in 2000, and he transformed the space into the crown jewel of Central Park. The Loeb Boathouse closed temporarily during the pandemic in October 2020 and reopened last March to bustling crowds.
With its closure, the city loses not only a charming al fresco restaurant but one of its most coveted wedding venues, which typically book out a year in advance. Couples who booked the site in advance — which commands $1,000 to place a date, the first installment above $7,500, and costs more than $40,000 in total — have been thrown for a loop.
“They do two weddings in a day over the weekend. Everyone is scrambling in New York. This is just a big issue. We were about to send ‘Save the Dates,'” said Megan, an administrative assistant who booked the venue for her April 2023 wedding.
“We immediately called him on seeing the news. “We are committed to continuing with your program,” said the bride, who declined to give her last name.
Then, she received an email last Tuesday from Peter Bischoff, the director of the Boathouse’s banquet, saying her April wedding would be cancelled.
“We regret to inform you that the Central Park Boathouse will no longer host events from Sunday, January 1, 2023. All secured funds will be returned in a timely manner,” Bischoff wrote.
Megan said she has already reduced $11,000 in November. On July 23, he was to pay another $10,000 for his reception.
Now, she’s struggling to find an alternative wedding venue and is considering holding a smaller event in Tuscany, Italy, instead of a big NYC affair. But she’s already deposited with several local vendors: $1,000 on flowers, $4,000 on a band, $2,000 on a wedding coordinator, $500 on a videographer, $1,000 on hair and makeup, and one photographer. $2,000. She has had no luck finding a comparable New York venue for her wedding and fears she will lose all of her deposit.
“We are high and dry, and have lost a lot of money because of their incompetence,” Megan said. “It wouldn’t be right until the boathouse compensates brides for their vendors.”
Loeb Boathouse did not return a request for comment.
Meanwhile, Caroline said she is unable to get answers from staff about the status of her declining marriage. She feared that employees would already be looking for new jobs, and getting married so close to the venue’s closing date could mean check-out staff and lacking food. Her wedding planner advised her to jump ship, and she immediately started looking for new places. Caroline did not disclose how much money she put into the boathouse, but says she is currently trying to get her deposit back.
“There are a lot of risks involved when a venue is closing. Cook living? Is the staff going to stay? Will his heart really be in it as we call it off within two weeks of our wedding? Will we get what we paid for? We didn’t want to put any question marks,” said Carolyn, adding that her family is coming from Australia and can’t afford the uncertainty.
She and her wedding planner visited the Altman Building and a few other locations, including Tribeca 360°, and settled on Mandarin Oriental, which, seriously, was open on Saturday, October 1.
“I’m more excited now,” said the bride-to-be, whose changed vision is a modern black-tie soiree with white orchids instead of the original garden greenery vibe. “I’m planning a separate wedding now, which is stressful.”
Meanwhile, Nathan Brown is now struggling to move forward with wedding plans as the boathouse is closing. He and his fiancée, Alice, booked the venue for their March 2023 wedding and had already reduced by $8,500.
He plans to host between 150 and 170 friends and family at the venue, which holds a special place in his heart.
“We’ve been there several times. It’s a lovely place. We love the pond there. It’s a New York City icon,” said Brown, an emergency room physician assistant who lives in Midtown and regularly Se cycles before the boathouse. “We don’t really have a Plan B.”